A complete waste of time.

https://i1.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3197361/140full.jpg“Ranger Manoso. He’s like the statue of David by Michelangelo, if you dipped him in caramel and strapped some heat on him.”

Katherine Heigl’s career is going no where at this point, and with the release of her latest movie One for the Money, that statement has hit home. Heigl had a positive start with a rom-com I actually liked, 27 Dresses. However, lately she’s been playing the same character over and over again – the annoying woman who spends the whole film screaming and acting like a complete lunatic. Directed by Julie Anne Robinson, One for the Money is based on the popular novel of the same name by Janet Evanovich. Having never read the book, I had no idea what this film would be about. Obviously anything featuring Heigl these days is a chick flick, but the inclusion of action, crime, and other elements from different genres makes One for the Money a confused experience. As a comedy, which it tries to be for the most part, it’s an utter miss. With so many funnier and better films out there, One for the Money is simply a waste of your time.

Jersey girl Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl), after losing her job, is broke. Needing a job she is told that her cousin Vinnie (Patrick Fischler), a bail bondsman, needs someone to help out in the office. But all he has are skip tracers. She learns that Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara), a cop she knew intimately years ago, is one of them. To prepare for the job, bounty hunter Ranger (Daniel Sunjata) tries to teach her, giving her a gun and showing her the tricks. After many encounters with Morelli, Stephanie starts to suspect that he may be innocent of the crimes he’s been accused of.

Written by Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray, and Liz Brixius, the screenplay is simply generic and unfunny. Even fans of the original book have complained about the film’s treatment of it. The main issue is there’s no reason to care about any of the characters or what they’re trying to achieve. Stephanie isn’t particularly unlikeable, but she’s not interesting in any way. The way her search for Morelli unfolds is so predictable – the film tries way too hard to be a crime mystery, and although it is in the book, there’s no reason to care about what happens while watching the film. Morelli does give the film somewhat enjoyable banter between him and Stephanie, and Ranger is a fun character. In all honesty, the male characters definitely bring some sense of joy to this chick flick. There is a moment in the film where Stephanie develops a friendship with a pair of hookers, and when one of them is injured by a criminal Stephanie is tracking down, there’s supposed to be a big emotional response in the audience. Problem is we haven’t spent enough time with these characters to really care what happens to them. Like I said earlier, the film doesn’t try in any way to give you something to care about, making it real chore to get through the whole film.

Katherine Heigl may be amazing eye candy, but she brings nothing interesting to the role. For the most part, she acts like a lunatic. Still, Heigl is competent enough to the point where she doesn’t truly get on your nerves. The same goes for the rest of the cast. Jason O’Mara is decent as the token love interest, and there’s fun banter between him and Heigl. The two share a certain amount of chemistry, but it still doesn’t add a lot to the experience of the film. I really liked Daniel Sunjata as Ranger, giving a cool and badass performance. Yes, you could say he was wooden, but I thought it suited the role well.

When One for the Money moves into territories outside the rom-com genre, it becomes a complete mess. The mini action beats are decently put together, but the comic music played over them give the sequences no sense of tension. There’s really nothing left more me to say. This review may very well be my shortest ever, and for good reason. One for the Money has nothing to discuss about. It’s not obnoxious in any way, but there’s nothing I can recommend about it. I guess if you are a fan of Katherine Heigl, then it could be fun movie to watch, but for anyone else, it’s a waste of time. There are better rom-coms out there – try Crazy, Stupid, Love. or (500) Days of Summer.

4/10

Tagged , , , ,

A sweet and simple comedy.

https://i1.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3032914/140full.jpg“If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to eat it.”

I’m infamous for enjoying the most barbaric kinds of humour. I like gross out comedy, sex comedy, and even racial comedy. Thus, when a ‘smart’ comedy comes out, I usually never have any interest in seeing them. There are times when I do actually enjoy a comedy with a witty and subtle script – Up in the Air is an excellent example. The most recent addition to this list is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (one hell of a title). I never had any real interest in seeing this even though I liked the trailer. When I was dragged along to see it with a cousin, I wasn’t reluctant, and I actually really enjoyed this film. I can’t say this is the funniest film I’ve seen all year, but it does provide many laughs throughout the running time, and it’s rich with character and gorgeous imagery. Best yet, there’s nothing too depressing about it. This is, at the heart of it, an extremely fun and sweet feel-good movie.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India is the new home for a group of old British retirees who can’t afford to stay in Britain anymore. They are stubborn prejudiced Muriel (Maggie Smith), who needs a hip replacement, mismatched married couple Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton), recent widow Evelyn (Judi Dench), Graham (Tom Wilkinson), who grew up in India and has past issues to deal with, good-time girl Madge (Celia Imrie) who’s looking for a rich husband, and Norman (Ronald Pickup), an inveterate ladies’ man who’s actually just looking for romance. Each responds to this strange, colourful new world in different ways. The young owner of the hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel), is defying his family in keeping on with this inherited white elephant and in wanting to marry the girl he loves.

Written by Ol Parker, the film is an adaptation of Deborah Moggarch’s novel, and it goes in directions you’d pretty much expect it to. Just from the trailer, you can tell already that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a predictable film. That being said, it doesn’t damage the film in a horrific way. It does take away the element of surprise, but the film still packs in a lot of hilarious lines and characters. Parker’s script is rich with interesting characters, with the more well-known stars getting the most attention. Graham, Evelyn, Douglas, and Muriel all have terrific arcs – they’re developed extremely well. It’s a shame that the rest of the characters don’t get much of a look into at all. Still, there’s enough romance and laughter between the characters to keep the film moving at fun and brisk pace. There’s also a lot of emotion thrown in for good measure – there are sad moments in the film, and they do manage to tug at the heart-strings.

Parker’s dialogue is witty throughout, and the film rarely depends on physical gags and raunch to generate laughter like most comedies we see nowadays. This is simply dialogue and character driven. Muriel in particular will guarantee applause from the audience. Although she is a caricature, her racism and fussy attitude is actually hilarious. Yes, she may be a tad bit obnoxious during the start of the film – but that’s the point. Her transformation in the film is beautiful as she spends more time with another culture. Also really funny is the character of Norman, although his best jokes are featured in the trailer. There is a touch of romance in the film, particularly with Sonny and his girlfriend, and this is slightly weak as it detracts from most of the film. The same goes with the budding relationship between Evelyn and Douglas. All this romance just feels forced.

The cast is the main selling point of the movie. Director John Madden has gathered a group of veteran British performers to play the leads in the film, and they’re all in top form. Judi Dench plays her role beautifully, creating a nuanced and likeable character. It’s nice to see Bill Nighy playing a normal human being for once, and he’s actually really fine. Tom Wilkinson doesn’t get the most screen-time as one would imagine, but he’s definitely one of wiser characters. There’s a gentle screen presence he has that works well in this. Maggie Smith really shines in this as well. Dropping the whole persona of Professor McGonagall, Smith dives into her racist character with ease, and adds a nice adorable touch to her performance. Last but not least, Dev Patel is a lot of fun as Sonny. Surprisingly, we haven’t seen a lot of him after his performance in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire (maybe it was The Last Airbender), but he definitely brought real enjoyment to his character, and it definitely shows he has a bright future in comedy.

Madden’s direction is great, and although he doesn’t take the film in unexpected places, he works well in his comfort zone. The film looks absolutely beautiful, thanks to the handsome photography by Ben Davis. Davis captures the colour and vibrancy of India gorgeously – this depicts the country in a truly positive manner. Also working for me was the score by Thomas Newman, which had a nice festive feel to it. All these technical elements give The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel an aspect of Indian culture – the combination of the cinematography and sound gives the audience a real look into this country.

Overall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a delicate and sweet comedy that should be enjoyed by all ages. No matter what kind of comedy you’re into, the film will generate laughter from you, and it leaves you with a good feeling. Yes, it’s extremely predictable, and there’s nothing groundbreaking or new here, but if you just want a film that’s enjoyable and immensely satisfying, this should be witnessed by you.

7/10

Tagged , , , , , , ,

For once, a deep and complex summer movie.

https://i0.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3734190/140full.jpg  “If we don’t stop it, there won’t be any home to go back to!”

2012 has been a great year for movies, particularly during the summer. Summer blockbusters have always been about the spectacle, and that’s perfectly fine with me. The Avengers delivered on what it promised – an entertaining and visually exhilarating ride. It started off the summer season with a bang (it garnered critical acclaim and has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide so far, making it the third highest grossing film ever), and now Ridley Scott’s long-awaited Alien prequel finally hits movie theaters all around the world. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Prometheus, as it marks Scott’s return to the film that started his successful career. I was excited, and even though I didn’t love the first Alien film quite like everyone else, seeing a sci-fi epic directed by Scott was something anyone, regardless if they saw Alien, would want to see. Having seen it now, in IMAX 3D, I can say that it literally blew me away. It definitely lived up to the hype, and even exceeded my expectations.

In 2089 on the Isle of Skye, scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover cave paintings identical to those already discovered in many different parts of the world – they depict a man reaching out to a strange constellation of stars. Three years later Shaw and Holloway are among the crew of Scientific Exploratory Vessel Prometheus, heading for the planet closest to the stars depicted in the drawings. Also on board are Captain Janek (Idris Elba), the powerful representative of Weyland Corp, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and David (Michael Fassbender), an all-intelligent android. Prometheus lands on the planet, and in a vast cavern the scientists make some strange, unsettling, discoveries.

Scripted by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, Prometheus is filled with subtle throwbacks to Alien. It really expands on the Alien lore and concepts – I was quite annoyed that I never re-watched the first Alien film when I came out of this movie because you get more out of it if you do. Regardless of whether you’re a newbie to this franchise, there’s still so much complexity you can appreciate from the film. It’s a truly deep plot Scott has going on his latest blockbuster, with themes of religion and our origins, and these link together beautifully. There are questions raised in the film about our makers, and like most films with a philosophical edge, these questions are never answered (it should be kept that way in my opinion). The film also follows a classic line of events, as the crew’s situation just gets worse and worse. Scott and his writers really tried to create a reminiscent structure to Alien, and he succeeded with that. My only criticism with script is character – there’s not a great deal of it than you’d expect. While the heroine, Elizabeth Shaw, is fairly well established and developed, some of the other characters aren’t. There’s no tension between some of them even though there should be, and times it fails to develop some members of the crew and even elements of story. Vickers in particular is established beautifully, but her character never has a chance to develop. The same goes with David. I don’t mind this as much as most movie-goers probably will, but it’s definitely a flaw in the film.

Prometheus always manages to keep you on the edge of your seat though. At the heart of it, it is a horror movie just like Alien. The film includes a dozen of unforgettable sequences – to be honest, every moment of the film is memorable. There are moments of gore, which definitely delivers on gruesomeness. A truly terrifyingly marvelous features Shaw performing abdominal surgery on herself. Expect a lot of blood. Also pretty spectacular was the climax – definitely the best sequence of I’ve seen all year so far. Holy shit, that got my heart pumping. From the moment it begins, you are tense and it won’t stop til the ending of the film.

Scott has a remarkable cast to work with, though some are kind of wasted on their weak characters. Noomi Rapace is awesome, making a big name for herself in Hollywood after the Swedish adaptation of the Millenium trilogy and starring in the Sherlock Holmes sequel. She’s fantastic in the role of Shaw, and provided the emotion and physique to pull off some truly unbelievable scenes. She’s one to watch, I can tell you that. Logan Marshall-Green is exceptional as Holloway, delivering on the desperate attitude of his character. Michael Fassbender meanwhile is a show stealer. He adopts a more different approach to playing the android as opposed to actors cast in this kind of role in previous Alien films. Fassbender goes for eerie feel with his portrayal of David, and it actually works really well, making the audience suspicious about his true agenda. Likewise, Charlize Theron also had a suspicious feel in her acting here, and it definitely allowed her to be an effective character. It’s a shame her character wasn’t developed enough, as Vickers was actually really interesting. Still Theron was excellent, and my god, she is fine as hell (anyone who follows my reviews will know I almost always say something like that :P). Guy Pearce makes a brief appearance in this under heavy make-up as Weyland, and his practically unrecognisable. Idris Elba is also superb as the captain, but his character, like many, is never fully developed towards the end.

The spectacle of Prometheus is one of the film’s strongest points. Scott is no stranger to working with a grand budget, and he always manages to work with it and create a visually terrific blockbuster. Everything about Prometheus looks beautiful. Shot by one of my favourite cinematographers, Dariusz Wolski, the film has rich, dark look, and it all falls into the place with eerie sets. The planet that the crew lands on is full of danger and death, and the film created this perfectly. The visual effects are top rate through out and definitely the best I’ve seen all year (yes, even better than The Avengers). The design of ship, Prometheus, is actually quite stunning, and the production design on the interior is superb – the space suits the crew wear look pretty awesome to me. While the score isn’t that memorable, it did add to the tension of the film, and the creature designs are just frightening. If you’re a fan of scary aliens, you’re in for a treat, as Prometheus features an array of shocking things that will have you jumping in your seat. I saw this in IMAX 3D, and while the 3D isn’t amazing (I was surprised considering it was shot in the format), it didn’t ruin anything for me, and was implemented well at times, particularly the climax. Scott stages some pretty spectacular action sequences that actually have a real sense of tension to it – it’s not just eye-candy, there is true suspense at work in Prometheus.

Yes, I have issues with the characters in the screenplay, but I still love this film. Prometheus is probably the first blockbuster with a complex narrative to be released this year. It’s rich with subtle themes and references, and the cast is fantastic. After watching this, it made want to watch the Alien series all over again, and that’s definitely a good sign. Once I’ve finished with them, you expect me in the cinema watching this another time. Yes, it’s that fucking good.

10/10

Tagged , , , , , , ,

A generic, sci-fi mess.

https://i2.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3476752/140full.jpg“Did I not tell you he could jump!”

We’ve seen millions of films set in outer-space, and many of them have become classics over the years. John Carter is based off the 1917 novel, A Princess of Mars, and is considered by many fans to have been the inspiration for sci-fi epics including Star Wars and Star Trek. While this is probably true, the film adaptation has been made years after the genre has been used so many times, John Carter in the end just feels dull and cliché. Directed by Andrew Stanton, who is making his first live-action film after many years of working with Pixar, this is just a mildly enjoyable film. With Disney trying so desperately to launch a franchise since Pirates of the Caribbean is doing so well in terms of the box-office, John Carter (which is apparently the biggest box-office flop of all time) will entertain the most undemanding of movie-goers.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) learns that his Uncle, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), has died. Reading his diary, Edgar discovers that Carter had fought with the South in the Civil War and later, while fleeing from Apaches, had stumbled across gold in a cave and, via a magical medallion, had been transported to Mars, called Barsoom by the people who live there. These people are the tall, green, thin Tharks and the human-like, tattoed, Zodangans, who are in conflict with one another. Carter is attracted to Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), a red Martian Princess.

John Carter was written by Stanton and co-writers Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon, and it’s derivative of every sci-fi epic you can think of. Aircraft battles, rival species – George Lucas had done this a long time ago. Yes, there are films that can get away with having a certain genre like this, but the issue is with the screenplay. There’s nothing special about it. To be honest, I found so much of this film confusing, particularly with the rival aliens, and the god-like villains known as the Therns, led by Matai Shang (Mark Strong). Surprisingly, considering how cliché this whole film is, the plot is extremely convoluted. There are too many unnecessary sub-plots, and it’s hard remembering certain characters (the names all sounded the same…). The hero is likeable enough, and fortunately Dejar is not a total stereotypical princess – she’s a scientist and warrior, which at least gives the movie an interesting character.

The first act of John Carter definitely has severe issues. First off, there are just so many plot-holes, and it’s really the case of lazy writing. For example, when John Carter arrives on Mars, he can’t walk properly due to the gravity change, and thus he must jump to be able to move in distances. Shortly after he realises this, he suddenly starts walking normally as if the gravity was suddenly changed to the way it is on Earth. How the hell did this happen? The writers should’ve at least took some time to develop this ability to walk properly as if he was on Earth. Also, the pacing is dangerously slow in the first half, mainly due to just uninteresting content. When the film tries to set up a romantic relationship between John Carter and Dejar, it’s not convincing, and although his past is harrowing, I couldn’t care less about Carter – he just felt derivative and uninteresting.

In terms of acting, John Carter doesn’t feature any performances that really stand out. Taylor Kitsch is wooden and looks bored as the title character. He just spends most of the film talking in the same tone of voice, and although he maybe trying to appear like a badass, his performance is nothing great. Lynn Collins definitely added some enjoyment to the film (she’s remarkably hot), but her acting itself, like Kitsch, is nothing special, although her character is a lot more interesting than John Carter. Thus, she has slightly more to do. Mark Strong and Ciáran Hinds look embarrassed to be in this and spend most of the film trying to keep a straight face. Willem Dafoe adds some good value to mix voicing the leader of the Tharks, and Samantha Morton is also commendable as his daughter.

While the first half is sluggish, the second act of the film definitely picks up the pace with a lot more spectacle. The action sequences are mediocre at best, and I gotta say, I think 3D ruined them for me. This is, by far, one of the worst 3D conversions I’ve ever seen (I never saw Clash of the Titans, so I can’t compare this to the latter). It’s not well used, and it added nothing to visuals – it just made everything darker. Thus, the action set-pieces never really grabbed me, and 3D was never even implemented well with them. With all these negatives, the film still has positive aspects. The design is amazing. The sets look beautiful, and the costumes, particular Lynn Collins’, were great to look at. The ships look spectacular, although the visual effects used to create them are standard for this kind of thing. The score’s not particularly memorable, but editor Eric Zumbrunnen did manage to capture a nice adventurous style to film, with long dissolves and well cut action.

I find John Carter extremely hard to recommend. There is some fun to be had with it during it’s second half, but oh god, the other half… it’s just boring to sit through. With the 3D just ruining so much for me, I’d say it’s a decent rental, but don’t expect anything spectacular. It’s shocks me that the film had such an enormous budget ($250 Million), yet everything looks so unconvincing. Even Mars itself wasn’t convincing (it just looked like a desert somewhere on our planet). Like I said, if you’re undemanding with your sci-fi, then you probably could ignore the endless amount of flaws in John Carter. Otherwise, it’s a film I wouldn’t waste my time with.

5/10

Tagged , , , ,

Considering the hype, this is underwhelming.

https://i0.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3660449/140full.jpg“Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire!”

The Hunger Games, directed by Gary Ross, is based on the popular novel of the same name. After I saw this film, I actually went out and read the book, and I loved it. Can’t say the same thing about the film though. If you’ve seen something like Battle Royale, then The Hunger Games won’t be as amazing as the hype has been setting it up to be. The transition from the book to film is poorly made, and the PG-13 rating has definitely damaged what the film could’ve been. Fans have called this the next Harry Potter, and with that franchise already finished, The Hunger Games is trying to take it’s spot as the beloved novel-to-film franchise. Although it’s better than Twilight (I’m gonna get hell for this, but they’re not that far apart in quality), this really doesn’t have the same charm as Harry Potter.

Sometime in the future in what was once North America, the rulers of a decadent dictatorship force 24 teenagers, 12 boys and 12 girls, from each of the country’s 12 enslaved districts, to fight to the death in a protracted contest relayed to the entire country on television. In District 12, 16-year-old Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers when her young sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is originally chosen, and, together with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), son of the baker, becomes a ‘Tribute’, taken to the nation’s capital to be groomed and trained for the Hunger Games.

I’ve been reading The Hunger Games trilogy, and it’s an amazing series of books. I hate to say this line, but the book is simply better than the movie. Personally I don’t think The Hunger Games works so much as a film. The original book was written in first-person from the viewpoint of Katniss, so the reader would get an insight into every thought that went through her head. There was constant urge for survival in the novel, and that really added tension to it. This is missing in the film, which I guess is necessary. The books also had social commentary on the world of Panem, but there’s no attempt to explore this. Instead, the film pushes more for the love triangle, a form of romance that has become quite popular with the whole Team Edward/Team Jacob phenomenon. I do think The Hunger Games has a better love triangle than Twilight – infinitely better. The characters are slightly more likeable, especially Katniss. However, Ross, who co-wrote the screenplay with The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray, fail to establish a convincing relationship between Katniss and Peeta. I just didn’t buy their romance. I must yet again fall back on the novel and it’s first-person writing style, as it allowed the reader to know what Katniss really thought of Peeta.

Although I have huge qualms with the script, there were scenes I just loved, the reaping in particular. This is the moment in which Katniss volunteers as a tribute for the Hunger Games – it’s a truly heart-wrenching scene. The writing is perfect, and the utter silence amongst the crowd just adds to the fear and emotional tension. It’s a perfect transition from the page to the screen. Also working was spot-on characterisation of Katniss, and the relationship between her mother and Primrose is beautifully realised. Ross still tries to stay true to the book and I respect him for that. He keeps key moments of Katniss’ past inter-cut within the film, using the terrific flashbacks, for example the death of her father. The other tributes in the mix also added some great tension to the film, particularly the career tributes who have been training their whole entire lives to compete in the games.

As Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence is perfect. If you get over the fact that she doesn’t look 16 at all, you’ll realise she embodies the role perfectly. This was very fine casting, and she definitely brings a strong presence to a female role. Lawrence might actually have a future career as a female action star. Josh Hutcherson brought charm to his performance as Peeta, and depicted this brilliantly kind character well. I can’t say he and Lawrence shared a great deal of chemistry, but they were able to work competently together. Liam Hemsworth has little screen time as Gale, a close friend of Katniss back at home in District 12. He’ll definitely have more to do in the sequel, which is when the love triangle will start to emerge (New Moon, anyone). The players in support are also superb – Woody Harrelson is entertaining as Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta’s mentor, Elizabeth Banks has heaps of fun as Effie Trinket, and last but not least, Willow Shields brought a sweet innocence to Primrose that I adored. Among the tributes fighting in the games, no one in particular really stood out apart from Isabelle Fuhrman and Leven Rambin as two female career tributes. Rambin is beautiful and has been well cast as the pretty tribute Glimmer, while Fuhrman just relished her role, playing a sadistically evil character with confidence. It’s no surprise she handled this role so well – Fuhrman actually played the evil child in Orphan.

Ross’ approach to the action is shocking. He’s decided to use the infamous shaky-cam style, and it doesn’t help at all. It appeared as if it was used to hide the violence, but I’ve seen combat with swords and arrows done well with a PG-13 rating (Lord of the Rings in particular). This shooting style doesn’t help a lot with the action sequences, which have been shot so poorly that you literally can not tell what is happening on-screen. There was only one action set-piece that I liked. There’s a chase sequence during the games where Katniss flees from a growing bushfire. The shaky cam actually adds a sense of speed to the action, and the visual effects are handled well. In fact, the visual effects overall were decent – nothing too special, but convincing. Also, I loved the design of the capital and its inhabitants. The exaggerated look of things captured the mainstream and selfish ways of the Capitol. Though the design is great, it’s a shame that it’s not done justice by the horrible photography. Even Twilight had better cinematography than this (Yes, I just said that).

Overall, The Hunger Games is an average adaptation of a pretty outstanding book, and considering the hype behind this film, it really isn’t that good. While the books are infinitely better than The Twilight Saga, the film only has a slight edge over the sparkling vampires. While Ross directs the drama well, his decision to opt for a handheld look is counter-productive. I’m still looking forward to the sequel, Catching Fire, which will be directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water for Elephants). From his filmography, I see that there’s little shaky-cam in his movies, so hopefully the sequel will be more enjoyable to look at.

6/10

Tagged , , , ,

No nutrional value at all, but it’s still sweet.

https://i2.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3612881/140full.jpg“You’re gonna die. I’m gonna die. We’re all gonna die… Just not today!”

If you thought Transformers was dumb, just wait to you see Battleship. Based on the popular board game of the same name, this is like drinking a shitload of Red Bull – it’s not good for you in any way, but it tastes nice. Battleship has nothing going for it in terms of plot – at all. We’ve seen so many invasion movies that the story doesn’t break new ground. Directed by Peter Berg, the film does what it’s meant to do – entertain us. There’s enough eye-candy here to keep brainless teenagers like me impressed, but there’s no way this can hold a candle to the success of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, which in a way, it tries to mimic.

Alex (Taylor Kitsch) is the tearaway brother of naval commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard). Forced into the navy he’s still got a lot to learn, but still manages to maintain a romantic relationship with the beautiful Sam (Brooklyn Decker), who is the daughter of the strict Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). Elsewhere, scientists have built powerful satellites to communicate with any lifeforms out there in the universe. This unexpectedly invites a nasty species of Aliens to crash down on earth in the sea. Intent on using the satellites to communicate with their home planet, the aliens begin battle with US Navy Battleships (three to be precise), and Alex has trouble dealing with the situation.

There’s nothing complex about the script, no surprise there. The humans involved are dull, with Alex being quite unlikeable, and we never get to see a great deal of his romance with Sam. I can’t particularly note any other characters as there’s nothing more to say this element. Basically, these characters are flat and the action is pushed for. However, there is humour in the film, which I liked. There are moments in the film when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. As Battleship definitely has an absurd concept, it was nice to see that the filmmakers at least had a sense of humour, with the early scenes being quite amusing. Though a lot of this charm disappears as soon as the aliens arrive, the film still brings small doses of the amusement to keep the audience laughing from time to time. This isn’t witty comedy, but it’s so silly that you kind of go with it.

What I also hated were the aliens. These aliens, though they may have cool tech, aren’t interesting. This is, of course, the fault of the script. Why did these aliens land on our planet? What do they want from us? We can only assume these answers as we’re never really given hints. Also, I wish the aliens had been actual characters themselves – that way we could’ve maybe learned more about their intentions. With so many invasion movies that actually have menacing bad guys, Battleship just feels weak in the mix. These aliens aren’t the slightest bit threatening (apart from the weapons), and their look is rather… weird. I won’t spoil their design, and I can’t even explain how terrible they look. Basic statement I’m trying to make: the aliens didn’t deliver on what they were supposed to. The running time actually went over-board for me (see what I did there?), clocking over 2 hours. Normally I’m fine with this, but when nothing interesting happens on screen, it really starts to get boring. The pacing is definitely an issue, with the first act in particular draining our minds. I just wanted the film to cut to the battle – that’s what the audience is here for. With such an empty script, the film really didn’t to spend anytime with plot and character development. It was just a waste of time.

Taylor Kitsch is not having a good year. After the dismal John Carter (which is apparently the biggest box-office flop of all time), he’s not having a lot of luck in the industry. My issue with him is that he brings the same performance to every role with that husky voice. Is he trying to be a badass or something? Granted he did have a bit of humour to work with here so that was nice. Liam Neeson spends most of the movie trying to keep a straight face, though he doesn’t have a lot of screen time. Likewise, Alexander Skarsgard isn’t in the movie for very long. Brooklyn Decker, surprisingly, didn’t bother me too much in the film, and she had great banter with war veteran Gregory D. Gadson, who plays a patient of hers. However, someone who did bother me was Rhianna. Oh dear, she shouldn’t be acting at all. Luckily, her character had absolutely nothing to do in this.

The only reason I went into this was for the action, and the film delivered on its promise. While it takes a while for the action to begin, I was satisfied when it started. The aliens crashing on Earth literally brings the action to the film, and it immediately enters into explosive battles. Berg has always been fond of using shaky-camera work, but he tones it down in Battleship The action sequences are actually extremely well put together, with the sound perfect (the sound effects are reminiscent of those in Transformers), and the images crisp and convincing. There are small set-pieces that actually hark back to the game this film is based on, and those moments are fantastic, adding actual tension to the film as both sides can’t see each other. My big issue with the action is that it never peaks at the end – the final confrontation is really disappointing, and far too short for there to have been any real suspense. Still, it looked great. The soundtrack is fun and upbeat, and while the aliens themselves look ridiculous, their technology is insanely cool. You’ll find the aliens doing a lot more destruction than the humans (surprise, surprise).

Battleship is so stupid. There’s no intelligence at all here. It’s all eye candy, and it delivers on that. The action in this film has its breathtaking moments. While it almost has nothing to do with board game – no one evers says “You suck my battleship!” – it does entertain, and if you’re in the right mood, Battleship is a lot of fun. It’s a seriously flawed film, and there’s no way a sequel will be made, but if you’re bored and you simply want to see shit blow up, look no further than Battleship.

6/10

Tagged , , ,

A huge improvement over the first film.

https://i1.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3038706/140full.jpg“We may not be gods. But we do what people say can’t be done, we hope when there isn’t any… whatever odds we face, we prevail.”

Clash of the Titans was a shocking movie. It was simply terrible. As an adventure movie, it sucked as the characters were bland, and the story was thin. Even as an action film, it was mediocre – the sword fights in particular were shot and edited awfully. I never saw the film in 3D, so I wouldn’t know how bad the 3D looked. Now, the director of Battle: Los Angeles (Unlike most movie-goers, I actually don’t mind that film), Jonathan Liebesman helms the sequel. Wrath of the Titans is infinitely better than Clash. As a sequel, it doesn’t improve or develop the story of this franchise, but the film succeeds on the element that is vital – the visuals. I’ll be honest, I dug the hell out of this film, and even if you hated the first movie, I still think you’ll enjoy Wrath of the Titans. The positives, in my opinion, outweigh the negatives, which are – surprise, surprise – in the scripting department.

A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington) the demigod son of Zeus, is living a peaceful life as a village fisherman and the sole parent to his 10-year old son, Helius (John Bell). Meanwhile, a struggle for supremacy rages between the gods and the Titans. Dangerously weakened by humanity’s lack of devotion, the gods are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus (Liam Neeson), Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston). The triumvirate had overthrown their powerful father long ago, leaving him to rot in the gloomy abyss of Tartarus, a dungeon that lies deep within the cavernous underworld. Perseus cannot ignore his true calling when Hades, along with Zeus’ godly son, Ares (Edgar Ramírez), switch loyalty and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. The Titans’ strength grows stronger as Zeus’ remaining godly powers are siphoned, and hell is unleashed on earth. Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Poseidon’s demigod son, Argenor (Toby Kebbell), and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), Perseus bravely embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus.

Alright, the first film had a bad script, so it’s really no surprise that Wrath of the Titans is no different. However, since it’s a sequel, I really didn’t care. My issue with the first film is that Perseus as a character was never established well, and he never particularly developed over the course of his journey. In Wrath, we can at least suspect that he’s developed into a stronger man during his years as a fisherman – weirdly enough, his new haircut really adds to his character, he actually looks like Perseus now. Obviously the stories nothing great, and it plays out like a video game. Still, it allows for the filmmakers set up better action sequences than the first film, and for the first time, we see Zeus in action. My biggest issue with the script is the ending. It felt extremely abrupt and the climax just happened way too quick.

This leads us to the characters. I don’t get too upset when the plot is terrible in mindless action movies, but at least give us decent characters. All the new characters introduced are bland as they don’t develop in any way, and you don’t care about them at all. The same goes with the hero, Perseus. Although he acts like a badass now, we don’t care about him, and there’s no tension when something dangerous approaches him. The relationship he shares with his son is established briefly, so there’s no emotional value there, and the some-what romance he has with Andromeda is also weak. This ain’t really a spoiler, but towards the end, Perseus just kisses her – where did this come from? Before the kiss, they never shared any sort of romantic moment, though we could tell that Andromeda had feelings for Perseus. I would’ve also liked to have seen some form of a relationship between Perseus and Ares – after all they are brothers. The film just spends too much time with its action for there to be any sort of character interplay.

I’ve always thought Sam Worthington was a great action hero – he’s a badass. Being an Aussie myself, his accent doesn’t bother as much as most movie-goers, but it’s a shame he doesn’t have a lot to work with here. His performance as Perseus in Wrath of the Titans has definitely been an improvement over his in Clash of the Titans (it’s definitely the haircut), but it’s still nothing special. Meanwhile, Rosamund Pike proves she can still bring that badass girl attitude that was so amazing in Die Another Day. Like Worthington, her character’s bland, and she doesn’t have a lot to do here in terms of acting. But she’s still awesome – how she doesn’t have more roles in action movies, I’ll never know. Liam Neeson finally gets to do more as Zeus, and I actually thought he did well. He’s at least trying, and like I said earlier, we get to see him bring the hurt this time during the action scenes. Likewise, Ralph Fiennes also gets a lot more involved in the action, and he brings a convincing performance as well. Bill Nighy has heaps of fun with his role, but his screen time is quite limited.

In terms of action, Wrath of the Titans certainly delivers. This was what I went into this movie for – the action, not the script. Liebesman set up some really breathtaking set-pieces, which surprised me as his last action movie focuses so much on shaky-camera work. But alas, the action was shot perfectly in Wrath of the Titans. Even the sword fights are stunning – I couldn’t stand the ones in Clash – and the battle sequence between Perseus and Ares is riveting stuff. The visual effects are top notch as expected – the creation of the monsters is superb. From the Chimera to the Kronus himself, the detail and design of these creatures is to commended. Also, the 3D actually adds to the experience. I was shocked, considering the film was converted in post-production. The film also looks beautiful, with gorgeous production design by Charles Wood, which has been shot with skill by Ben Davis. The score by Javier Navarrete was epic, and praise should be handed to Liebesman for keeping pacing brisk.

I’ve surprisingly met people who actually liked the first film, and if that’s the case with you, then I can’t recommend Wrath of the Titans enough to you. Yes, there’s been no change with the script, and the characters are bland, but the action has been improved to such an amazing level. I went in for action alone, and I got it. Since the film is paced so well, you’re never bored as the characters are always thrown into battle after short moments of conversation. With the 3D working well, and spectacular action set-pieces, Wrath of the Titans should entertain those who don’t ask too much from their movies. Bottom line, check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride.

7/10

Tagged , , , ,

They’re back!

https://i1.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/2996489/140full.jpg“I once caught Steven sticking my hairbrush up his ass. It wasn’t the handle side either.”

I grew up with the American Pie movies. Even though I didn’t get half the jokes back then when I was kid watching this crude gold, I still laughed. As soon as I hit my teen years, I finally understood the jokes and loved these films more and more. So, bottom line, I’m an American Pie fanboy – that is, only first three. Yes, like many, I never bothered watching the direct-to-DVD sequels. I never want to watch them. When I saw the trailer for American Reunion, I shit my pants. I was so excited. It’s been 9 years since the last true sequel, American Wedding, and Reunion would finally bring the old gang together for the last time. Surprisingly enough, this actually felt like an actual conclusion to the franchise, and not a way to respark it and make more sequels. Like the tagline states it, Save the Best Piece for Last, the filmmakers are actually pushing this to be last American Pie movie, but I can’t say it’s the best entry in the series.

Over a decade has passed and the old gang – Jim (Jason Biggs), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Oz (Chris Klein), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and of course Stifler (Seann William Scott) – return to East Great Falls, Michigan, for their high school reunion. Their plan is to relive their high school years during the course of the weekend, as they get drunk and party hard. Jim, however, is having sex issues with his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Kevin meets again with his first love Vicky (Tara Reid), and the same thing applies with Oz, who still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend, Heather (Mena Suvari). Finch has moved on from Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge), and finds a spark with a former classmate, Selena (Dania Ramirez). Stifler, meanwhile, is up to his old tricks as usual.

Directed and scripted by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (the creators of Harold and Kumar), American Reunion plays the humour more on nostalgia rather raunch. This definitely added a sweet side to the film. As most fans will have missed the old gang, it’s nice to see all the references to the first three films. Since I’m a fan of American Pie, I got all the nostalgic jokes and references, and I think audiences who have seen the previous films will actually get more out of this. To be honest, I think any newcomers to the franchise will be lost, as Hurwitz and Schlossberg really push for a nostalgic angle. However, the film still reaches for the gross out side of things, but I still think American Pie 2 really delivered on this kind of comedy. Still, Reunion has enough poo and nudity to satisfy American Pie fans. A certain sub-plot involving Jim and a girl he used to babysit (who is now a teenager and thoroughly attractive) is sure to crack audiences up, and allows for some terrific ‘awkward moments’ we remember from past films.

On the emotional side of things, the film has its ups and downs. With Stifler, it does work. He’s still trying to live in the past during his teen years and doesn’t realise he’s an adult now. It works well as fans have loved this character from the first film, and there actually is some development for him. However, Kevin, Finch, and Oz have far less successful storylines. The dramatic side for their characters just don’t work in this. When the film tries to play on the drama, it doesn’t hold you for long. That being said, the marriage issues for Jim and Michelle worked for me. These are two characters we know and love, and as fans, we want their relationship to work out. Another issue I had with the scripting department were the cameos – some of characters from the past films (Sherman, Nadia, etc.) make very brief appearances, and I would’ve liked to see more of them. However, the reunion of the MILF guys (John Cho and Justin Isfeld) is definitely one of the high lights of the film.

It’s great to see the old cast back together. Since this wasn’t possible in American Wedding, it definitely adds a lot to this sequel. Jason Biggs still brings that naturalistic and goofy performance of Jim that he did so well in the previous films – he owns the role. Also, I couldn’t get enough of Alyson Hannigan. She’s so beautiful and plays her nympho character just as well as she did back in the old days. Biggs and Hannigan’s chemistry is still intact, and they work together perfectly. As for the rest of the main cast, everyone gives solid performances and bring the laughs like they’re meant to. Seann William Scott is still bringing that insanity and horny characteristic to Stifler – he’s amazing in the role, and always will be. I also thought Dania Ramirez was a welcome addition to the cast. But the actor who stole the show was Eugene Levy as Jim’s Dad. He was hilarious, and shares some pretty hysterical moments with Jennifer Coolidge.

To capture that old nostalgic feel of the 90s, the film also has a nice soundtrack with all kinds of hits from that era. There are also tracks that fans will remember from the previous films (Sway by Bic Runga). Hurwitz and Schlossberg keep the pace brisk, and there’s always an upbeat vibe and energy to the film. There are many scenes that beautiful timed by the directors, and the character Stifler gives these moments an awkward and urgent tone that makes it reminiscent of certain scenes we’ve seen the past American Pie. Speaking of reminiscent, I thought the party scenes also had a nostalgic feel to them. Seeing Stifler drunk and partying is definitely a reminder of the old days.

American Reunion definitely makes up for American Wedding, which was definitely a mediocre entry in the series. It’s satisfying, and the great thing is it plays on nostalgia, which makes it seem more like a way to conclude the series rather than a way to respark it. The ending doesn’t hint at a sequel, but there’s a truly hilarious post-credits scene that will generate belly laughs from the audience. While I don’t think Reunion is my favourite entry in the franchise (I still like American Pie 2 slightly more), it didn’t disappoint me terribly, and if this was a way to finish the franchise, then Hurwitz and Schlossberg have done a fantastic job.

8/10

Tagged , , , , ,

A new step in the ‘found-footage’ sub-genre.

https://i2.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3152841/140full.jpg“Yes, it was the black guy this time.”

The ‘found-footage’ sub-genre was popularised when The Blair Witch Project was released way back in 1999. There have been so many found-footage films in the horror genre that they’re actually starting to get boring. The thing that’s attractive about this sub-genre to many studios is that they cost little to make, yet rake in a lot of profit. One of the latest found-footage films to move into a new genre is Josh Trank’s Chronicle. This is sort of like a ‘super hero/villain origin story’, and it works really well. With a budget of $15 Million, it’s really surprising how well the visual effects fall in place with the story telling. Trank, who was 27 when he made Chronicle, impresses so much with his directorial debut, and the film does things that no other found-footage movie has done before, particularly with the camera.

Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a troubled but creative teen who lives with his sick mother (Bo Petersen) and abusive father (Michael Kelly). He is socially awkward and is often bullied at his high school. To record the hardships he goes through, he buys a handheld camera. When he goes to a party of one of the students at his school, he makes a discovery with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and class-mate Steve (Michael B. Jordan), that leads them all to acquire powerful telekinetic abilities. Their new found powers bring them closer together as friends, as they get into all kinds of mischief and develop their abilities. However, their intentions, particularly those of Andrew, turn for a sinister angle.

I’ll admit, it is hard to write a found-footage script (I’ve had a try of it). However Trank and writer Max Landis (the son of horror filmmaker John Landis) have come up with a story that transitions quite well into a screenplay. Personally, I found myself relating a lot to the character of Andrew. I’ll be frank; I wasn’t the most popular kid in high school and I did cop a fair bit of bullying, so I could relate to the pain he was going through. The characters here are terrific in that way – since they’re teenagers, many young audiences (probably the target audience for the film) will definitely respond to them. The humour has that hip, teen style to it, and it surprised how funny the film was. It’s largely thanks to the character of Steve, who may be seen as a cliché comic relief black guy, but he was likeable character. Also adding to the humour is the way the three friends decide to use their powers, mainly in the fun and games direction (we’ll get to the darker side later). They play football while flying and play tricks on people with their telekinesis. The mischievous tone was something I responded well to, and the film’s tagline, Boys will be Boys, is a perfect description of this.

Landis’ script takes time to develop the characters over the course of the film. Andrew becomes more threatening as he learns to use his powers, Matt learns to be a good person, and Steve starts actually spending time with Andrew (he never did before as he was popular student). These characters are likeable, and Landis does a good job of making the audience care about these friends. But the dark side of things plays into the whole teen angle beautifully. With Andrew living such an unfortunate life, there’s something understandable about his development to a darker personality. As teenagers, we are naive and don’t think things through. Hell, if I got powers seen in this film, I’d do all kinds of things I’d regret without thinking it through. I liked this theme the movie worked itself around of, and it allows the audience to be more invested with these characters. When Andrew starts using his powers in a negative way, that’s when the film takes a darker tone. There’s hardly any humour in the final act, but tonal shift wasn’t abrupt and had been set-up over time throughout the course of the film.

In most found-footage films, the acting is usually atrocious (first-time actors are often hired). However, in Chronicle, the acting is actually really fine. It’s definitely surprising as most of these actors haven’t been in a lot of roles. As Andrew, Dane DeHaan is excellent – he channels both the light and dark side of his character perfectly. His transformation from vulnerable teenager to badass super villain is fantastic. Meanwhile, Alex Russell brought a commendable performance as Matt, but Michael B. Jordan was terrific, having heaps of fun with his role which definitely translated into the audience. Michael Kelly (Dawn of the Dead, Changeling) is pretty much the only well-known actor cast in this, and as Andrew’s alcoholic father, he’s fantastic.

Chronicle has a truly unique style as opposed to most found-footage films. Instead of just one camera, the film cuts between different cameras, depending on the scene. For example, at the opening party scene, the film switches from Andrew’s camera to another one owned by Matt’s love interest, Casey (Ashley Hinshaw). Towards the climax though, this style has its ups and downs. There are moments where they’ll use surveillance cameras and other authoritative formats. However, there comes to a point where it gets a bit unconvincing, as the cameras will still capture what the characters are saying (also, Andrew’s camera is not in use during the conclusion). Speaking of the conclusion… it’s pretty awesome. It’s practically a big battle between two superhuman beings shot in a found-footage style – and it works! You can actually tell what’s going on, and it’s just riveting stuff. The cinematography throughout the film is quite creative, and allows Trank to move out of the typical found-footage look. As the lead characters improve on their powers, they begin to levitate the camera and move it in totally new directions. This allows action sequences to be shot really well, as the hero doesn’t even need to be grasping the recorder. The visual effects may not be top-notch, but this isn’t a big budget film. At the end of the day, the effects were fine – they didn’t bother me, and they were well-integrated with the action sequences.

I really do hope that this evolves into a franchise, because there’s so much potential here. It finally proves that the found-footage sub-genre isn’t a total gimmick after all. As a huge fan of superhero movies, it was refreshing to see one that wasn’t based on a comic book. Better yet, it was done in a style I never thought was possible for superheroes. While it’s shot in a handheld style, the film has a graceful look, and it delivers on everything you’d want a superhero movie – a hero, a villain, action sequences, sci-fi elements. It’s all here. Like I said, this is pretty much a superhero/supervillain origin story, and if we get more that are as good as this from studios like Marvel and DC, I’m gonna be a happy man.

9/10

Tagged , , , ,

One hell of a good time at the movies.

“Yeah, thttps://i2.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3390769/200full.jpgakes us a while to get any traction, I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a head count here: your brother the demi-god; a super soldier, a living legend who kind of lives up to the legend; a man with breath-taking anger management issues; a couple of master assassins, and YOU, big fella, you’ve managed to piss off every single one of them.”

There’s never been a movie that’s had more hype than The Avengers. Since the first Iron Man movie, Marvel has been setting up a film adaptation of the popular comic book series, hinting at the audience with several post-credits scenes. There have been several Avengers set-up movies, with The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and a sequel to Iron Man. All of these films were a major success individually, and it was a no-brainer than movie-goers everywhere was excited for The Avengers, particularly fans of the comic books. Directed and written by Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind a list of popular TV shows, The Avengers didn’t live up to the hype for me personally, but I can’t stress how much fun it is. Whedon himself is a comic book fanboy himself, and he’s treated the subject matter with a lot of respect and love. This is an amazingly enjoyable summer blockbuster.

Loki (Tom Hiddelston), the evil brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), has managed to acquire the Tesseract, the all-powerful energy source that was found at the bottom of the sea in Captain America: The First Avenger. He invades the Headquarters of Shield and manages to turn both Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgaard) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to the dark side. Shield’s leader, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), summons together five heroic figures to help save the world: Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans); Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).

At the end of the day, the plot for The Avengers is nothing special. The whole situation is just an excuse for Shield to bring The Avengers together, and I’m fine with that. What Whedon does that sets The Avengers apart from most of the mindless action movies we’ve seen this year is with his characters – he gives them depth. Although the characters have been established in the set-up movies, Whedon’s script actually explains more about them and shows to the audience who these people are. There’s also some great development with the character of Black Widow, who we never got see a lot of in Iron Man 2. We are shown the relationship she shares with Hawkeye, which has its ups and downs. While it gives some extra dimension to her character, it reduces Hawkeye to a plot device – I had a problem with him as a character, as he has hardly anything to do until the climax. But still, you get a good sense of heroism from the film, as Whedon takes the time to actually develop a few of The Avengers. The Hulk is finally given a chance to shine here, and Tony Stark finally starts acting like a nice guy (only slightly). With a fan of The Avengers at the helm, the depiction of these heroes is dead on – they are heroes, and you get that terrific vibe throughout the whole film.

There’s also great deal of character conflict, which definitely adds a lot of emotional depth to the film. While the middle of the film drags slightly, this is when all the conflict actually starts to emerge, as the heroes begin arguing – they don’t get along so well as you’d expect. The main thing, though, that I think fans will take away from this is Whedon’s witty dialogue. This is a tremendously funny film. What’s great is the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. The film’s not supposed to be grim like The Dark Knight – it’s got a completely different tone, and Whedon works with it. There are laughs scattered throughout the whole film, and each character has their own moment to deliver a hilarious line. The constant references are great, and you can’t get enough of Tony Stark’s snappy lines. With so many films now failing on the humour department, it’s great to see that a big action movie like this can still generate applause from the audience.

The cast is impeccable – there’s literally no one who bothered me. Robert Downey Jr. is always reliable to deliver his witty dialogue – his comic timing is superb. Having played the role of Stark in two movies prior to The Avengers, Downey Jr. pretty much knows the character so well that he can’t screw up the portrayal of that arrogant and spoiled attitude. Chris Evans brings a noble and likeable presence to his performance of Cap, and Chris Hemsworth still remains just as good as he was in the title role of the orignal Thor. Also kicking a lot of ass – Scarlett Johansson. Words cannot describe how hot she is in this film, and she definitely knows how to portray a badass convincingly. Jeremy Renner, though I wasn’t so into his character, still managed to bring an action hero vibe to Hawkeye, and makes me look ever so forward to his upcoming role in The Bourne Legacy. Tom Hiddleston still pulls off the same wicked and mischievous performance he gave in Thor, but I had a huge problem with the character of Loki in this film. He just didn’t seem like much of a threat – he spent most of the time getting his ass kicked. That being said, there is a moment between him and The Hulk that will guarantee applause from the audience. Speaking of The Hulk, Mark Ruffalo was excellent, bringing the best performance as Bruce Banner yet seen on film. As Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson was confident and in good form, while Clark Gregg stole all his scenes as Agent Coulson – he was simply hilarious. And last but not least – Cobie Smulders! While her character had very little to do, I just couldn’t stop staring at her. She was beautiful in the role, exuding confidence and a badass attitude thrown in for good measure. And she dons that black leather suit like a goddamn champ.

As an action movie, The Avengers is top-notch. I remember seeing the trailer in 3D several times, and what shocked me most that it didn’t look bad. The 3D was actually amazing in this movie, considering it was converted. There are several moments where it’s used to great effect, particularly during the climatic action sequence of the film. The last half hour is awesome. Reminiscent of the destruction of Chicago in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the climax is set in New York, as swarms of aliens wreak havoc upon the city. It’s filled with amazing long takes, heaps of explosions, and top-grade visual effects. The action is edited and shot well – you can always tell what’s going on, even with all the destruction happening on-screen. The creation of the aliens and their ships is to be commended, and Whedon was, surprisingly, able to integrate each of the Avengers into the climax. Everyone has their moment to shine in the action – even Black Widow, who doesn’t have a great arsenal as opposed to someone like Iron Man. Also pretty spectacular is the production design – the Shield headquarters is amazing to look at. The costumes, particularly those of Black Widow and Maria Hill, are sensational, and Alan Silvestri’s score is the very definition of epic, lending weight to that heroic vibe the film pushes for.

I won’t lie, I’m not as in love with this movie as most movie-goers are. I was actually expecting a 10/10 movie, but it still didn’t end up being a perfect movie for me. The Avengers has been stated as the best Marvel film to date, but I still must disagree. I enjoyed Spiderman 2 and X-Men: First Class slightly more than this, but I’m not saying it’s a bad movie. Hell no, this is so much fun. With so many mindless action movies being spit out by Hollywood these days, it’s refreshing to see an action film that has heart, humour, and some pretty mind blowing action sequences. The summer movie season has started off with a bang – get to the biggest cinema available in your area, purchase a large popcorn and soda, and enjoy the ride!

8/10

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,